The success of this classic veal piccata relies on using very thin cutlets, AKA scaloppine. Pounding the meat until it’s thin tenderizes the veal and allows it to cook quickly. The goal? Having the thinnest cutlets that aren’t torn or look like been through a war.

Recipe Ingredients

The ingredients for veal piccata--veal cutlets, lemon, flour, butter, olive oil, white wine, caper, and parsley
  • Veal cutlets–Many markets sell cutlets thinly sliced and pre-pounded. Look for an evenly pink color and thin veins of milky-colored fat. You can substitute boneless chicken or turkey cutlets if you prefer.
  • Dry white wine–Choose a dry wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Avoid sweet wines, as they’ll skew the flavor of the sauce.
  • Lemon–Since you’re using the entire lemon in the sauce, I recommend you choose an unwaxed organic lemon, if possible. If you can only find waxed, give it a good scrub before slicing to remove the wax and pesticides.
  • Capers–These add a wonderful briny, salty flavor to the dish, which helps to cut the richness of the butter sauce. Drain your capers before adding them.
  • Flour–A light coating of flour helps the veal to brown and also thickens the buttery lemon sauce slightly.

How to Make Veal Piccata

A person seasoning and flouring veal cutlets, a person heating butter and olive il in a skillet.
  1. Season the veal cutlets and dredge them in flour.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with the oil in a large skillet.
Floured veal cutlets in a skillet; seared veal cutlets in a skillet.
  1. Working in batches, cook the veal until golden brown.
  2. Flip the cutlets and sear the other side. Transfer to a serving platter and repeat with the remaining cutlets, adding more butter and oil if needed.
A person pouring white wine into a skillet; a person pouring chicken stock into a skillet of sliced lemons.
  1. Add the white wine and lemon slices to the skillet.
  2. Pour the stock into the skillet with the lemon slices and simmer the sauce until it’s reduced by half.
A person adding butter cubes to a skillet of wine and lemon slices; a person jiggling the skillet of lemon slices, butter, and lemon juice.
  1. Add the capers and parsley to the skillet then drop in the butter.
  2. Swirl the pan to melt the butter and emulsify the sauce.
  3. Return the veal to the skillet (below) and turn to coat each piece in the sauce. Let the cutlets sit in the sauce for a few minutes to warm through before serving.
A black skillet of veal piccata--veal cutlets, lemon sauce, sliced lemons, capers, and chopped parsley.

Common Questions

What’s the best way to pound veal cutlets?

Place your cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap and use the waffled side of a meat mallet or a heavy cast-iron skillet to flatten the cutlets until they are about 1/4-inch thick. You can smooth the surface of the meat by lightly pounding with the smooth side of the mallet once you’ve achieved your desired thickness.

If you’re substituting boneless chicken breasts for this veal piccata recipe, use only the smooth side of the mallet for pounding as the waffled side can cause the more delicate chicken meat to tear.

What side dishes should I serve with veal cutlets?

Buttered pasta is a classic accompaniment to this easy veal piccata recipe, and you’ll love drizzling the extra sauce over steamed broccoli or sautéed green beans.

What cut of veal is best for this recipe?

Use veal cutlets, which are thin pieces cut from the top round. They are often labeled as “round steak” or “veal scallopini.” As I always say, find a reliable butcher who can help.

What is the difference between Veal Francese and veal Piccata?

The two dishes are prepared similarly by pan-frying veal and serving it in a lemon-butter sauce. However, veal francese is coated in an egg wash as well as flour before searing, while veal piccata is not. Also, piccata includes capers, and francese doesn’t.

Expert Tips

  • Pound your veal to an even thickness so that it cooks evenly. Or have your butcher do it for you.
  • Make sure the butter is fully melted and the oil is hot before adding the veal to the skillet. This will promote browning.
  • Serve this immediately, as the coating will soften and become gummy if allowed to sit too long.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

Storage: If you suspect you won’t eat all the piccata at one meal, it’s best not to add the cutlets back to the pan to warm up. This will help keep the veal from getting limp and soggy. Store leftover veal cutlets and the lemon-caper sauce in separate sealed containers in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Reheating: Bring the sauce to a simmer in a skillet over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and add the cutlets until heated through.

A black skillet of veal piccata--veal cutlets, lemon sauce, sliced lemons, capers, and chopped parsley.

More Great Piccata Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

An oval platter of veal piccata--veal cutlets, lemon sauce, sliced lemons, capers, and chopped parsley.

Veal Piccata

4.80 / 48 votes
Veal piccata that’s quick enough to make on a weeknight yet restaurant-worthy enough for weekends.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineItalian
Servings6 servings
Calories322 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Twelve (2- to 3-ounce) veal top round cutlets, (or chicken breast or turkey cutlets), pounded until 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 1 lemon, preferably organic, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Instructions 

  • Season the veal on both sides with the salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to a plate.
    Veal cutlets being dredged in flour.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium-high heat.
    Butter and oil melting together in a skillet.
  • When the fat is hot, add the cutlets in batches. Don't crowd the skillet!
    Veal scallopini being seared in butter and oil in a skillet.
  • Sear the veal, turning once, until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side, 3 minutes total.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If using chicken or turkey, cook until no trace of pink remains, about 3 minutes per side.

    Browned pieces of veal scallopini in a skillet.
  • Transfer the cutlets to a platter, cover loosely, and repeat with the remaining veal. If necessary, add more butter and oil to the skillet.
  • Pour the wine into the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, scraping the browned bits, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and lemon slices and bring to a boil.
    A person adding wine to a skillet.
  • Cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lemon juice, capers, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and tilt the pan to swirl the butter until blended into the sauce.
    Butter being added to a skillet with lemon slices, parsley, and capers.
  • Add the cutlets back to the skillet, turn to coat them with the sauce, and let them warm through.
  • Arrange the cutlets on a platter. Pour the remaining sauce over top and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Veal thickness–Pound your veal to an even thickness so that it cooks evenly. Or have your butcher do it for you.
  2. Get your skillet hot–Make sure the butter is fully melted and the oil is hot before adding the veal to the skillet. This will promote browning.
  3. Serving–Serve this immediately, as the coating will soften and become gummy if allowed to sit too long.
Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook

Adapted From

Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook

Buy On Amazon

Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 322 kcalCarbohydrates: 12 gProtein: 27 gFat: 17 gSaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 111 mgSodium: 348 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Saveur Magazine. Photos © 2024 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This veal piccata recipe is an easily executed version of the classic dish. The only veal cutlets I found had already been pounded for scaloppine. They were all around two ounces or so.

I served the scaloppine along with brown-rice spaghetti, tomato sauce, and an arugula salad. I put my second piece of scaloppine right on top of the salad, and, WHOA!, was that good.

I’ve made piccata in the past with veal, chicken, and sole. It’s a dish that I really enjoy. This recipe is an excellent version that’s quick, easy, and yields wonderful results. It’s my new go-to recipe for piccata.

The finished dish was fresh and bright. It was also absolutely delicious. I served the piccata with cheesy mashed potatoes, which the sauce enhanced beautifully.

I also sautéed fresh string beans with chunks of red bell pepper. A glass of rosé or pinot noir makes for a perfect meal. Next time, I’ll make extra sauce. The flavors in the sauce mixed with the pan drippings are amazing, especially if you’re a fan of lemon.

This piccata came together in no time and was devoured for dinner with some rice, a large green salad, and a crisp Napa Chardonnay. Everyone loved it, including the kiddos, who were skeptical about the capers in there but were ultimately won over by the tart, bright sauce, and tender veal. This is a winning recipe for a quick weeknight dinner.

I made this recipe with one pound of chicken breast cutlets and loved it. The sauce is silken and has just the right amount of lemon. Since the meat is so thin, it cooks quickly, and the whole dish comes together in under a half hour.

My family loved this variation of veal piccata. We have a couple of conscientious objectors to veal in the house, and it’s nice to know that when we choose to have this dish, I can use turkey as an option for them. The turkey was tender and the whole thing was delicious.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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38 Comments

  1. I think I’m going to try this on some butterflies rainbow trout. My husband I just caught about 8lbs worth. I’ll keep you posted. Lemon and fish just go together!

    1. Theresa, I hope it works. Trout is much more delicate than veal cutlets. Let us know how it turns out.

  2. 5 stars
    This is a delicious veal piccata. The most difficult part of the recipe is getting the veal evenly pounded without making any holes in it. Otherwise, the recipe is relatively quick and easy—perfect for a weeknight meal. I purchased the veal at Whole Foods Market and was only able to find one package of veal cutlets, so I purchased a second package of veal labeled “scallopini leg.” The cutlet was definitely tastier than the scallopini. The veal was rather pricey, and I would probably only make this again with chicken or pork as a substitute.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I think it would turn out just as well with a less expensive type of meat.